Researchers from the University of the West of England (UWE Bristol), the University of Liverpool and the Bristol Urological Institute, after a four-year collaboration, have developed a device using sensor technology that may help diagnose patients with early signs of bladder cancer.
The Odoreader® uses a sensor that responds to chemicals found in the gas emitted from urine. It practically smells the urine and detects differences in the odor, analyses this gas and produces a ‘profile’ of the chemicals in urine that can be read by scientists to diagnose the presence of cancer cells in the bladder.
Professor Norman Ratcliffe from the Institute of Biosensor Technology at UWE Bristol said, “Odoreader® works by inserting a bottle containing the urine sample into the device. About 30 minutes later the Odoreader® is capable of showing the diagnosis on the computer screen if sample derives from a patient with bladder cancer. It is simple to use and could be operated in a doctor’s surgery.”
There are currently no reliable biomarkers to screen patients for bladder cancer in the same way that there are for breast and cervical cancers.
There research is also investigating that the same technique might be effective in detecting other cancers such as prostate while broader testing is completed.
Professor Chris Probert, from the University of Liverpool’s Institute of Translational Medicine, explains, “We looked at 98 samples of urine to develop the device, and tested it on 24 patient samples known to have cancer and 74 samples that have urological symptoms, but no cancer. The device correctly assigned 100% of cancer patients. These results are very encouraging for the development of new diagnostic tools for bladder cancer, but we now need to look at larger samples of patients to test the device further before it can be used in hospitals.”
The work, which was partly funded by the Bristol Rotary Club, is published in the journal PLOS ONE.